Share This Post

Featured News / Featured Slider / Main Slider

Why A Miami Middle School Is Teaching Debate To Conquer Common Core

Why A Miami Middle School Is Teaching Debate To Conquer Common Core

Bridget McKinney, principal at Miami’s Allapattah Middle School, says her students struggle to pass the state’s reading and writing tests. So when McKinney first read the Common Core math and language arts standards used in Florida schools this year, what jumped out was the emphasis on answering questions and making arguments using examples and evidence from what students are reading. Allapattah Middle School principal Bridget McKinney sits in on one of the speech and debate classes she's required her students to take. McKinney says the Common Core standards emphasis using evidence and making arguments. It took McKinney back to college — she was a speech major. So she decided her sixth, seventh and eighth graders would have to take a speech and debate course each year. McKinney says the goal is to improve reading and writing skills — and state test scores. “It’s been our Achilles’ heel at Allapattah, meeting that minimum requirement for literacy,” McKinney says. “I have to be very, very innovative or an out-of-the-box thinker to make this connection for my students.” Florida is one of dozens of states which have adopted math and language arts standards based on Common Core. The standards outline what students should know in every grade. The state also will begin using a new, tougher test tied to the standards. McKinney thinks the class will help prepare her students for changes in the the state’s new reading and writing exam. On the previous tests, she says, students would read a single passage and answer a few questions. “Now they’re going to have four sources and maybe two questions,” she says, referring to snippets from magazine articles, textbooks or poems. “But in those two questions are embedded so many requirements. They have to, one, cite evidence from the four sources. They have to choose a side. They have to use proper grammar and spelling.” LaDemia Albury is constantly asking her students for evidence. She asks her students about their book, “Foster Care Oddysey”: Why did Mrs. Chester turn sour after her husband got sick? She asks a student to read from her essay but cuts her off when she isn’t specific enough. “Before Mr. Chester was in severe issues – what is the severe issues?” Albury asks. “Just be specific. You’re wasting time with that. You wasted your opportunity to win a case. “The man is dying. He has emphysema. Why didn’t you write that?” Math and language arts are the main focus of Common Core standards. LaDemia Albury moved from an A-rated school to Allapattah Middle School at the request of principal Bridget McKinney. But literacy – reading comprehension, analysis, critical thinking – are embedded throughout the standards. And that encourages schools to add more reading in non-Common Core subjects like [...]

Share This Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Lost Password

Register